Many women stop breathing at night

Dangerous sleep
Last Updated 09 September 2012, 17:11 IST

Scientists in Sweden monitored the sleep patterns of adult women overnight and found that half of them experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds - the minimum definition of sleep apnoea.

The numbers were even higher among women with hypertension or who were obese - two risk factors for sleep apnoea, the Daily Mail reported.

Many of the women in the study represent mild cases of sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is tied to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and early death.

One recent study also found that women who have sleep apnoea are more likely to develop memory problems and dementia.

Dr. Karl Franklin, the lead author of the study and a professor at Umea University in Sweden, said his group wanted to get updated evidence of how common the condition is.

The researchers selected 400 women between the ages of 20 and 70 from a larger population sample of 10,000, and asked them to sleep overnight at home with sensors attached to their bodies.

The study, which was funded by the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, found that apnoea became more common in the older age groups.

Among women aged 20-44, one quarter had sleep apnoea, compared to 56 percent of women aged 45-54 and 75 per cent of women aged 55-70.

Severe sleep apnoea, which involves more than 30 breathing disruptions per hour, was far less common.

Just 4.6 per cent of women aged between 45-54 and 14 per cent of women between 55-70 had severe cases. Among women of all ages with hypertension, 14 per cent had severe sleep apnoea, and among women who were obese, 19 per cent had severe apnoea.

(Published 09 September 2012, 17:07 IST)

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